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backpacking raingear consideration

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I know this ribbon is about rain gear, but hey....

Some years ago, I bought a pair of Bundeswehr  (german army) winter trousers from my "surplus " store.  Most practical clothing I have ever seen.  Still use them when the weather turns really cold and it is time to  shovel the cars out of the snow, etc.  100% wool, double layer,  front layered with a plastic sheet, reinforced knees,  big pockets  everywhere, ribbons in the side pockets to tie your compass,  etc. to so they can't be lost.  No zippers to be frozen, only buttons.  Suspender buttons.  Waist adjustment by elastic and buttons.  Boot tie downs and cuff extensions so as to wear OVER boots.  

Such tailoring would probably cost alot of $$ but they were worth the "mark down"  I paid.  

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56 minutes ago, SSScout said:

Some years ago, I bought a pair of Bundeswehr  (german army) winter trousers from my "surplus " store.  

You must have gotten the newer ones. Mine have no elastic. I do find the buttons difficult to work when it's cold and I really gotta go, but wool is great in the snow while active. Mine cost $15 army surplus but the price went up once everyone realized how great they are for snowshoeing.

But, back to rain. It's all about breathability. I'd think the skirt with summer weight gators might do the trick. 

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Great days for buying surplus all those years ago when wool was replaced by polyester in all 1st World militaries.  The Swedish wool trpusers were pretty great too.


As the supply declined, the price rose.  Econ 101.

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  • 2 months later...
On 5/17/2021 at 11:48 AM, T2Eagle said:

A friend did Philmont using a rain kilt.  he still swears by it.  None of the other folks on the trek were convinced.

We strongly recommend that new scouts/parents invest in a really good rain jacket --- Gore-Tex level, and to the extent cost is a concern we'd rather they first  invest in that and we'll find all the other equipment they need.  We recommend good pants if they can afford them.  We have loaners of pants for trips where we know either by forecast or activity that they're going to need them.

Nothing puts a new scout off camping like being cold and miserable on their first or second outing.  For our "Tenderfoot Weekend" which is the first that new crossovers participate in, we the leaders bring lots of extra jackets, hats, gloves, etc.  to make sure that no one has a bad time for lack of proper gear.   Usually one outing where their gear fails is enough to convince scout and parent to make the investment.

I'm recently back from Philmont and still swear by the rain kilt. Your lower legs get damper, and your shoes. But then I'm combining with trail runners which dry much quicker than boots.


For context though, our first 5 days were off and on torrential rain/hail. However, for whatever stroke of fortune, we were. never caught hiking in more than a bit of drizzle. We always managed to be in a camp somewhere when the heaviest stuff was falling. After the 5th day we didn't see any more rain at all.

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8 hours ago, mrjohns2 said:

The rain kilt is like a poncho for your lower half! 


Does anyone have a recommended brand? The one shown looks like a blue tarp sari. 


ULA Rain Kilt - On Model

Mine is white. Not sure if it is the same brand but looks pretty similar to this:

Lixada Rain Skirt, Ultra Light Thin Rain Skirt, Waterproof Lightweight Kilt, reathable Windproof Raincoat Rainwear Liner, Packable Windbreak Kilt Skirt for Cycling Riding Camping Hiking https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H9WNM9M/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_2PCWGF541W2X2117G3RS?psc=1


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(Gee-not a word about ban......ptcy here-ahhhhh.)

I've owned Gore-Tex, coated nylon rain jackets, plastic cheepie rain jackets, and ponchos.

I've camped extensively with the Troop in the midwest, winter at 10 below and hot summers, muggy, rain.  Worked at the local scout camp a couple of summers, and on the Philmont staff 4 summers, 3 as a Ranger, and taken 4 Philmont Treks as an adult advisor. (over 40+ years).

So, what I've learned and what I do:

My Gore-Tex rain jacket and pants were very expensive and not serviceable as they did not breathe, leaked water, and were heavy.  Used the set only a couple of times and never again.

Coated nylon rain jackets.  This is my "go-to" rain jacket.  But not perfect.  In rainy conditions, one spends more time sitting out the rainfall, yet rain jackets rarely are long enough to cover that which you sit on.  I may well add about a 12" skirt around the bottom of my current rain jacket so I can sit down on something waterproof  instead of soaking my shorts on a stump.  I always buy oversize rain jackets to promote better ventilation.  "Sweat management" is important.  When the rain slackens or stops for a bit, unzip the jacket to ventilate.  Keep "pit-zips" open if possible.  When it rains very hard, just find shelter and wait it out.  Particularly at Philmont, where rainfall will generally move on in 30 to 45 minutes.  

Rain Skirt.  I ALWAYS carry at least one larger, heavy duty garbage bag-generally 3 to 4 mils.  Contractor bags are too large and too heavy.  I make my rain skirt out of one heavy duty garbage bag.  Slice along the bottom of the bag, but smaller than your waist.  Step through the slit and pull it up, slightly stretching the bag to fit your waist. (This will help help it snug around you and hold in place.)  If necessary tuck the top of the bag into your belt to hold it in place.  It should hang down around your knees or a bit lower. In heavy rain, sit down and cover your boots with the skirt.  If push comes to shove get out the Philmont crew dining fly and drape it over as many as will fit under it to shed the heaviest rain.  A rain skirt can also be used as a "chair," that is, placed on the ground and against the tree or log you are sitting against for lunch.  Protects you from pine sap from trees, and such.  Also, when unpacking one's pack at Philmont put the bag skirt on the ground and unload stuff onto it.  Keeps your gear clean, and collected in one place so you don't lose things.  Make as many uses of it as possible. Rain skirts provide great ventilation.  Rain pants are not good in my view. I never slit my rain skirt bag until I need to because it is a bag until you do, and after you slit it, it is a tube.

Cheepie rain jackets.  One can get by with these but not very durable, and generally too heavy for backpacking.

Ponchos.  Hard to make work well as rain gear, but possible with a waist belt or rope.  A poncho fluttering loose in the breeze is a nuisance.

What I know and do.



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Occassionally I will carry an umbrella on backpacking trips. Besides their intended purpose for rain, they also provide shade. This can often be more valuable. Another use I have found is with fire prep. I can easily prepare the tinder&kindling under the umbrella, even light the fire while holding the umbrella over it until the fire is sustainable. That said, I bring the umbrella on less than 20% of my trips.

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